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Fiscal Court approves three percent hike in conservation outlay

Representatives of the Hancock County Conservation District requested a 17-percent increase in the Fiscal Court contribution to its operating budget, with the stated purpose to help create a retirement plan for the district’s two employees.

The district requested $79,905, which the representatives said would allow for a three-percent salary increase for full-time Conservation Technician Gary Baker and part-timer Jane Gaynor, as well as providing funds toward a retirement program.

Baker pointed out that he is not allowed to be part of the county employees retirement system, and that entering into the state’s retirement system would be cost-prohibitive.

Fiscal Court ultimately approved a contribution of $69,580.62, representing a three-percent increase in line with the most recent salary increases for county employees.

Though allowed by state law, the Conservation District does not have a taxing district to generate operating revenue, instead relying on Fiscal Court revenue, state funding, and a percentage from assistance to landowners in the County Agricultural Investment Program.

Conservation districts in the state are responsible for assisting landowners and agricultural producers with being responsible stewards of water and soil resources.

The Conservation District operates on less than $200,000 per year. It is overseen by an elected slate of seven supervisors. Current supervisors are Anthony Johnson, Daniel Emmick, Dennis Johnson, Lyod Ray, Jr., Steven Ogle, Gary Long, and Joseph Hagman, according to the Kentucky Division of Conservation.

In other business, Fiscal Court:

  • Accepted the Hancock County Cooperative Extension Service budget in the amount of $298,728. The county’s contribution was approved at $100,000. Just as the Conservation District, the Extension Service is allowed by law to have a taxing district but such a revenue-generating tx does not exist in the county. Magistrate L.T. Newton said such taxing districts have been proposed “for the past six or seven Courts, but no one would go for it.” There is an estimated $912.557 million in real estate, personal property, and motor vehicle/watecraft assessed value in Hancock County.
  • Approved the Hancock County Jail budget in the amount of $317,400, including $37,265 in jailer salary, $150,000 in contracts with other jails to house county prisoners, and $14,000 for routine inmate medical costs.
  • Accepted a Federal Emergency Management Agency Hazard Mitigation Grant in the amount of $20,475 for the purchase of backup generators at Dukes Volunteer Fire Department and the Hancock County Rescue Squad. The generators will be 22 kilowatt fixed natural-gas powered generators for emergency power in the event of widespread power outages in the community. The non-federal share is $6,825 of the $27,300 price tag, with Kentucky Emergency Management covering $3,276 and Fiscal Court providing $3,549.
  • Approved a resolution recognizing April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. April has been designated as such in the United States since 1983.
  • Approved a resolution recognizing April 10-16 as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. Judge/Executive Johnny “Chic” Roberts said telecommunicators – colloquially known as “dispatchers” – provide a vital link between the public and first responders in times of crisis. Telecommunicators in Kentucky are required to complete a four-week, 164-hour training program at the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training campus in Richmond.

By C. Josh Givens

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